After months of negotiations, a proposal for new rural development restrictions is making its way through the hearing process.
Rural residents are about to get their first chance to go on record about stricter planning and zoning regulations that Douglas County officials may trade for water meters.
After a public hearing at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday, the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission will consider amendments to rural subdivision regulations. The amended regulations would satisfy Lawrence officials' concerns about unplanned development in areas likely to be annexed into the city.
The hearing will be in the Lawrence City Commission chambers.
Douglas County Commissioner Mark Buhler, who helped negotiate the proposed amendments with city officials, acknowledged that rural residents might balk.
``It's the appearance of additional regulation on our lives,'' Buhler said. ``However, the importance of this is that it gives us an opportunity to have a public hearing during the planning process and allows us, hopefully, to do some planning in terms of dedication of right of way and where residential densities ought to occur in rural areas of the county.''
The new regulations governing the Primary Urban Growth Area immediately outside the Lawrence city limits would no longer exempt properties containing at least five acres from planning requirements that apply to smaller lots. Platting would be required anytime the owner of an agricultural property in the PUGA changed its use to residential, commercial or industrial.
The five-acre exemption would still exist in other areas of unincorporated Douglas County.
City officials have refused to let rural water districts keep up with the demand for water meters until the planning regulations are tightened. They control the number of meters that can be issued in water districts that buy water treatment services from the city.
City officials say the new restrictions would help make sure that streets and utilities in the PUGA would be compatible with the city's infrastructure after annexation.
Within the PUGA, the amendments would require sidewalks and dedicated rights of way in platted subdivisions, ban new septic systems and impose standards for water lines.
During their meeting on Nov. 15, planning commissioners will discuss a proposal to enlarge the size of the PUGA. Its southern boundary, the Wakarusa River, would move south to include both sides of Wells Overlook Road.
Phil Bradley, the planning commission chairman, said the water meter negotiations will not be a topic of discussion at either meeting.
``We're not going to talk about water meters or who was promised what,'' he said. ``We're only going to talk about planning issues.''